The books they produce should not be stand out as self-published. The cover design, paper quality, format, blurb, internal layout – all of these features should equal those of traditionally published books.
The costs should be clear, itemised and transparent. The company itself should only sell you what you need and can afford. They should explain any financial implications of your choices. For example, how profit margins can differ on print on demand books and larger book prints.
They should make an effort to understand your ambitions, abilities, new book, and budget. No two book authors and no two published books are the same. Your publishing partner should treat you as an individual.
They should give you a realistic opinion within the manuscript appraisal on the viability of your work.
It’s about teamwork. Their team working with your manuscript should all have the same goal in mind. The best representation for your manuscript.
They will probably have published hundreds of book titles. Imagine this as a wealth of experience available to you. Ideas for enhancements that you would not have thought of. A professional and experienced company will offer a coherent set of services that makes your book the best it can be.
The vision for your new book should go beyond putting the final printed copy in your hand and giving you the bill. They should offer some ideas on how to move to the next stage with your new published book.
They should make themselves available to speak or act on your behalf if you have a disability or cannot represent yourself.
They should be supportive, even after selling you the services. Perhaps you need some initial advice on maintaining your online print on demand service or some marketing tips.
Their website should indicate to what extent they are genuinely interested in supporting authors rather than just selling its services. Their website and or Facebook page should show some published authors.
There is a brand new breed of dynamic and fresh-thinking self-publishing companies out there now. They offer all that I’ve described above. They provide support to writers rather than simply taking their money. Worse still, constantly pressuring existing ones to buy further services.